I have purchased a Camaro hatchback with an eight cylinder...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jan 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have purchased a 1990 Camaro hatchback with an eight cylinder engine and rear wheel drive. I have been advised that this car will be difficult to drive on slippery winter roads unless additional weight is carried in the back seat or the trunk. I need your input. First, which location is best, the back seat or the trunk? Second, what would be the right amount of weight to add?

TOM: Well, Fred, whoever told you that this car would be difficult to drive under slippery conditions was wrong. It's going to be hopeless!

RAY: This is one of the worst snow cars ever made. First of all, other things being equal, rear wheel drive provides poorer slippery-road traction than front wheel drive. Second, the bigger the engine, the harder the car is to control in the sleet and snow. And third, this car has an extremely light rear end, which makes it that much more likely to fishtail and slide around on you.

TOM: So if you really have to drive in the snow, I would take serious precautions. First, I'd invest in a really good set of snow tires. And don't get just two; get four of them (we're serious about this). Remember, you not only have to get started in snow, you have to turn and stop, too. So all four wheels are important.

RAY: In addition to that, I WOULD add some weight to the back of this car. Most of the weight of this car (the engine) is over the front wheels. So the most useful place for extra weight in this car is over the rear wheels. And you want to use weights that are relatively immobile, so they won't slide around a break a window, or bop a passenger in the back of the head.

TOM: That's why I like bags of sand. I'd start with two eighty pound bags. Try that and see how it works. If it's not enough, try two more...then two more.

RAY: And when you can no longer see out your rear window, take out a few bags of sand and try unplugging five or six spark plug wires. Good luck, Fred.

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